University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Safe Halloween Scares Up Fun and Festivities for Community

By Remi Levoff Friday, November 1, 2013

USC Topping Scholar Erik Estrada helps neighborhood kids craft ghostly magnets.Photo by Tandia ElijioUSC Topping Scholar Erik Estrada helps neighborhood kids craft ghostly magnets.

On October 31, USC’s Norman Topping Student Aid Fund (NTSAF) Scholars volunteered — as they do each year — to give back to the local community in the spirit of a “Safe Halloween.” They transformed Hoover Recreation Center into a spooky paradise complete with a haunted house, arts and crafts tables, inflatable bounce houses and goody bags for all.

Free to local families seeking a fun and safe alternative for their children on Halloween night, the carnival attracted a record-setting 2,500 attendees this year, according to Christina Yokoyama, director of NTASF.

“It was nice to see and hear that people have been coming to our Safe Halloween for multiple years,” she said about the program the Topping Scholars have hosted for more than 15 years. “They look forward to staying close to home and enjoying such a large event.

Wendy Salvador, local mom of two, was at Safe Halloween for the second year in a row. Her four-year-old daughter dressed as Tinkerbell and her three-year-old son was a firefighter. “We came last year, and I just loved it. More importantly, my kids looked forward to it this year,” she explained.

Just like many young families in the surrounding community, the Salvadors were drawn to the event because of its proximity and safety. “We live right off Vermont, so [the carnival] is convenient and safe to walk to,” Salvador said.

The Halloween festivities are equally fun for the NTSAF volunteers. Erik Estrada, the freshman Topping Scholar in charge of the Halloween magnet-making table, lit up when he explained what giving back to the community means to him. “It’s so much fun. I volunteered a lot during high school, so it’s a great feeling to be able to continue in college.”

Estrada’s festive Mickey Mouse ears and warm smile had children flocking to his table. While superheroes and princesses alike lined up to assemble their very own ghost-shaped magnet, each walked away with a spirited high five from Estrada and a bit of Halloween flare to take home.


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